I'm sure I'll get reamed for even posting this question, and I am not even sure of my answer to said question but, I wanted to hear the Throbbing Brain's take on this issue.
On Saturday, a disturbed individual parked his car on the San Francisco Bay Bridge and proceded to clamber around the bridge structure, threatening to commit suicide. Needless to say, multiple police, coast guard, highway patrol, ambulances, fire department units became encamped on the scene. Traffic was snarled for over 13 hours, refusing to come down. The Bay Area basically shut down.
Granted that this gentleman was somewhat disturbed.
Granted that emergency personnel have a duty to try to help.
But, granted that tens of thousands of dollars in direct costs were wasted on this episode-money that could be better spent elsewhere, perhaps???
And, granted that there are only limited resources available to society and government.
How long/how much effort/how much money should be spent on such a case? Should we eventually simply say: "Sir, help is available, but we cannot continue to tie up the bridge and police resources any longer, so we are reopening the bridge and reallocating the police?" Or, should we "indulge" (a term used by a libertarian-leaning radio host) a gentleman like this for "as long as it takes"?